Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality facing cuts, uncertain future

A federal agency that conducts research into healthcare quality — including long-term care issues — could be on the chopping block under the new administration.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has faced turbulent times before, with past budget plans proposing to eliminate the agency entirely. AHRQ's research has delved into long-term care related topics such as nursing home quality measures and urinary tract infections.

HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., told lawmakers this week that some of the research being conducted by AHRQ is also being done by the National Institutes of Health, a sign that the two could be merged. NIH would face an 18% funding cut under President Donald Trump's recent proposed budget.

Healthcare quality advocates and supporters of the agency said they don't see the potential funding cuts and merger as a sign of ill-will toward the agency, rather a misunderstanding of what it does, STAT reported.

“When you think about how many taxpayer dollars are spent to pay for healthcare under any scenario — Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP — to not invest a tiny amount of money to understand how to improve the quality of care seems so ill-advised and shortsighted,” Lisa Simpson, chief executive of Academy Health, told STAT.